Overview Lake Chelan Dam is a small hydroelectric project that regulates water flows between Lake Chelan and the Chelan River, a 4-mile stretch that connects the lake to the Columbia River. The project has been operated by Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County (Chelan PUD) since 1955 and is licensed to produce power by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As part of its most recent licensing effort and Clean Water Act Section 401 certification, Chelan PUD agreed to implement the Chelan River Biological Evaluation and Implementation Plan (CRBEIP). In order to improve habitat conditions and determine the river’s potential for supporting salmon spawning and survival, the CRBEIP outlined a stepwise progression that focused first on the creation of habitat followed by monitoring and evaluation, adaptive management, and finally compliance reporting. Between 2009 and 2019, Chelan PUD collected fisheries and water quality data to inform adaptive management, and in 2019 began the process of providing a final compliance report that evaluated the 10 years of data.
Our Role Four Peaks provided technical and regulatory support for evaluation of reasonable and feasible options for temperature improvements, synthesizing biological and water quality monitoring and evaluation studies, and providing technical support for stakeholder and regulatory meetings. In particular, this project involves consideration of modeled and observed habitat data to interpret patterns of fish habitat use and to derive conclusions about the operational impacts of flow regulation and water temperatures on fish populations. The results of the evaluation were summarized by Four Peaks in a comprehensive Biological Objectives Status Report (BOSR) that was reviewed and approved by multiple state, federal, and tribal stakeholders and allowed Chelan PUD to comply with their license and 401 water quality certification requirements.
The information contained in the BOSR was a foundational component of Chelan PUD’s request for a Use Attainability Analysis that was submitted to the Washington State Department of Ecology. In 2021, the agency announced it was proposing the requested standard designation change (Ecology 2021), marking the first time it had ever used the Use Attainability Analysis tool. Four Peaks continues to provide support for Chelan PUD by working with federal and state regulators with the associated water quality compliance review.
Ecology (Washington State Department of Ecology). 2021. “After restoration success, Ecology proposes site-specific rulemaking for Chelan River.” News (blog), March 25, 2021, https://ecology.wa.gov/About-us/Get-to-know-us/News/2021/March-25-Chelan-River-Rulemaking